Chapter 2 – Caiden
After dinner had been cleared, the forge fire banked, the animals fed, and the stalls cleaned, Caiden found himself immersed in his nightly studies. As he had done each night since his earliest memories, Caiden listened to Trom and settled his focus, concentrating all his energy on the movements of his awkward body.
As usual, they began with the simple Cat Step, a movement done with ease and little effort. As the hours wore on, the poses became more and more difficult, a challenge to both the body and the focus of the mind. Caiden’s body shook with effort and pain, the strain painting deep furrows in his brow. And yet, Trom did not let up. If anything, he pushed Caiden harder, making him hold the increasingly complex positions for significantly longer periods of time, pushing to imprint the memory into the boy’s muscles.
Even as his body and mind were strained to the limit, Caiden found time to reflect. For years his father had subjected him to this nightly regimen, Trom assuring him that this practice was a means to healing his body and building his physical strength. Caiden recognized it for what it was. His father pushed him desperately, drove him, night after night, not so he would be healthy but so that he might one day belong. So that the time would come when he might someday be physically and mentally strong enough to walk among the other children of the village, so that he might be one of them and not the outsider he currently was. This torture of mind and body was derived out of love, Caiden reassured himself.(more…)∞